Nietzsche and the Bible on Marriage, Possession, and Love 1

Friedrich Nietzsche is perhaps most famous for declaring and lamenting that “God is dead.”

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

But Nietzsche also touched on psychology, and in “Beyond Good and Evil” (in aphorism 194) he wrote some thoughts about desire and possession in marriage. It’s worth noting that despite his amazing mustache Nietzsche never married, often visited brothels, endured numerous physical and mental afflictions, and died at the age of 55.

[I have inserted paragraph breaks below to improve readability.]

The difference among men does not manifest itself only in the difference of their lists of desirable things—in their regarding different good things as worth striving for, and being disagreed as to the greater or less value, the order of rank, of the commonly recognized desirable things:—it manifests itself much more in what they regard as actually HAVING and POSSESSING a desirable thing.

As regards a woman, for instance, the control over her body and her sexual gratification serves as an amply sufficient sign of ownership and possession to the more modest man;

another with a more suspicious and ambitious thirst for possession, sees the “questionableness,” the mere apparentness of such ownership, and wishes to have finer tests in order to know especially whether the woman not only gives herself to him, but also gives up for his sake what she has or would like to have—only THEN does he look upon her as “possessed.”

A third, however, has not even here got to the limit of his distrust and his desire for possession: he asks himself whether the woman, when she gives up everything for him, does not perhaps do so for a phantom of him; he wishes first to be thoroughly, indeed, profoundly well known; in order to be loved at all he ventures to let himself be found out. Only then does he feel the beloved one fully in his possession, when she no longer deceives herself about him, when she loves him just as much for the sake of his devilry and concealed insatiability, as for his goodness, patience, and spirituality.

One man would like to possess a nation, and he finds all the higher arts of Cagliostro and Catalina suitable for his purpose. Another, with a more refined thirst for possession, says to himself: “One may not deceive where one desires to possess”—he is irritated and impatient at the idea that a mask of him should rule in the hearts of the people: “I must, therefore, MAKE myself known, and first of all learn to know myself!”

From Nietzsche’s nihilistic perspective we see three types of men with increasing levels of ambition for possession — not only for possession of a woman, but here using that possession as an example.

  1. The Modest Man is satisfied with controlling the woman’s body and her sexual gratification.
  2. The Ambitious Man additionally requires that the woman give up herself and her desires for his sake.
  3. The Third Man requires all that, but still will not be satisfied unless the woman knows him thoroughly and profoundly, such that she does not deceive herself into thinking that he is better than he is.

When we contrast Nietzsche’s thinking with the Bible we can easily see how his glimpse of the truth was twisted by nihilism. Consider:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:22-33

Some differences that jump out:

  • Instead of possession, the Bible speaks of love.
  • Instead of control, the Bible speaks of submission.
  • Instead of the wife giving herself up for her husband, the Bible says that the husband gives himself up for his wife.
  • Instead of loving devilry and goodness alike, the Bible teaches that we can be washed clean and made holy.

And yet buried within Nietzsche’s nihilism is a profound truth: we all have the desire to be “thoroughly, indeed, profoundly well known”, and this craving to be known is interwoven with our need to love and be loved. The great chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13, decimates Nietzsche’s ambition to merely possess and concludes with a deeply satisfying promise that through love we will ultimately know and be known.

… but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. [snip] For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:10-12

(Side note: Some Christians are dissatisfied with the teachings in Ephesians 5, especially with regard to love and submission, but be sure to notice the stark contrast between the Bible and Nietzsche. Nietzsche was one of the greatest secular minds in history and has had a profound impact on modern culture. It you “kill God” you must yourselves “become gods” to replace him, and don’t be so sure that you’ll do a better job of it. Nietzsche died alone and insane.)

Science and the Bible Agree: More Money Won't Make You Happier 2

Even if we know in our heads that the pursuit of earthly wealth is ultimately empty, it’s easy to fall into our culture’s assumption that money and happiness are connected. The primary purpose of this post is to remind myself that more money won’t make me happier.

First, remember that happiness is not the highest prize. Jesus was described prophetically as a Man of Sorrow, and when we suffer through Godly sorrow we participate in his essential nature.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Isaiah 53:3

Second, here is some evidence that more money won’t make you happier.

Science and the Bible Agree: More Money Won't Make You Happier 3
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Third, here’s a quick refresher on what is likely to make you happier:

I hope this post is a blessing to you! Please share your experiences in the comments.

Give Thanks for your Spouse's Sexuality 4

The Bible has a lot to say about giving thanks to God for His blessings in our lives.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

“Whatever you do” includes your sex life with your spouse! To celebrate Thanksgiving, here’s a list of 10 elements of your sex life that you can thank God and your spouse for. For each item, write down something specific that your spouse is or does that you are especially thankful for.

  1. Body: What parts of your spouse’s body are you most thankful for?
  2. Appearance: What about your spouse’s appearance are you most thankful for?
  3. Behavior: What sexual behaviors of your spouse are you most thankful for?
  4. Words: What sexual words of your spouse are you most thankful for?
  5. Intimacy: What forms or moments of intimacy with your spouse are you most thankful for?
  6. Giving pleasure: What ways do you give pleasure to your spouse that you are thankful you can do?
  7. Receiving pleasure: What ways does your spouse give you pleasure that you’re thankful for?
  8. Position: What sexual position are you most thankful for?
  9. Sexual activities: What sex games or activities that you do with your spouse are you most thankful for?
  10. Trying hard: What is your spouse working on sexually for your benefit that you’re thankful for? Not that your spouse has necessarily accomplished it yet, but you’re thankful that they’re trying.

There’s no need to stop at 10 — maybe these will just get you started! If you want to share your thanks, leave a comment and let us know what a blessing your spouse is to you.

The Three Women of Proverbs, Part 3: The Wife of Noble Character 5

Finally, the Wife of Noble Character, the “Proverbs 31 Woman”, the final part of our series on the women of Proverbs!

This is the goal! Wouldn’t we all like our husbands to be “singing our praises at the city gates”? Here are some main points I pulled out of the passages about the Wife of Noble Character.

  1. Intoxicate him with your love. Being in a state of intoxication implies that you have been drinking. If you want to intoxicate your spouse, keep drinking love! Make sex a habit. Commit to being intentional. Sex should be maximally pleasurable for both people in the marriage. Find new things to try with each other. Make an effort!
  2. Be prudent. The definition of prudence is: having or showing careful good judgment. If you do a Bible search for prudence, no surprises, the book of Proverbs tops the charts. Here is a summary of a few verses: “doing what is right and just and fair” (1:3), holding your tongue (10:19), “fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult” (12:16), “keep their knowledge to themselves” (12:23), “act with knowledge” (13:16), “give thought to their steps” (14:15). I’m surprised what I learn about myself when I really pay attention to my actions. I want to be more prudent.
  3. Bring your husband good. This implies that you are not doing him harm. Make sure you are giving him your best. Sometimes I notice that I am willing to give my full effort to my kids, projects at work, ministries at church, etc. but at the end of the day I have nothing left to invest in El Fury. Know when you are spreading yourself too thin so that you can preserve enough of yourself at the end of the day to pour into your most important relationship.
  4. Be industrious. Reading Proverbs 31 is daunting. This woman is busy! I can’t tell you what exactly to do with your time, but I can recommend to be efficient in your time. Your time is a finite resource. It is valuable. Consider how you want to spend your time and formulate systems in your life that enable you to spend it well. Use a calendar. El Fury and I share a calendar through Google and it has been incredibly helpful, especially as our kids have gotten older and have things of their own going on. Plan your time. If you plan how you are going to spend your time you are more likely to do it. This has helped me to organize my time so that when El Fury and the kids are home I am able to be present in my time with them. Get up early. I need to tell myself this, especially during the winter months. However, the days that we are disciplined and get up early are often the best days!
  5. Refrain from idleness. This is different from being industrious, but the two go hand-in-hand. When I looked up idleness, it says: not having any real purpose or value, not having much activity. Ask yourself, what is your purpose? What are your goals? Idleness will prevent you from fulfilling your purpose and achieving your goals. When I think of idleness I think about Stephen Covey’s Importance-Urgency Matrix (see: How to Have Time and Energy for Great Sex).  In summary, your time is spent four ways. Urgent and Important (emergencies, etc.), Important but Not Urgent (this is where you want to spend your time – relationships, etc.), Urgent but Not Important (often this is what other people impose on your time), Not Urgent and Not Important (the time wasters, the phone scrolling). If you analyze your time and much of it is spent in the Not Urgent and Not Important category, consider that some of that time might be in idleness. I’m not saying that all of the time in that category is bad or idle, sometimes you need some mindless activities. However if other areas of your life are lacking you might need to reallocate your time.
  6. Fear the Lord. People often confuse the word “fear” with respect, but that sells it short. God is to be feared and respected. I touched on this already in the Adulterous Woman post. Don’t be flippant in your attitude towards God. He is a loving, good God, but He is also that same God in Hebrews that says “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31)

Proverbs 5:18‭-‬19: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.”

Proverbs 12:4: “A wife of noble character is her husbandʼs crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.”

Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”

Proverbs 19:14: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

Proverbs 31:10‭-‬31: “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Other parts of this series:

The Three Women of Proverbs, Part 2: The Nagging and Quarrelsome Wife 6

Continuing this series on the women of Proverbs, we come to the nagging and quarrelsome wife. These verses are convicting. Nothing needs to be said on exactly what you are doing when you are nagging or quarreling. You know. When you are this type of wife, it is better for your husband to “live on the corner of the roof” or “in a desert”. If that doesn’t inspire self-loathing I don’t know what will! It is intolerable to be around someone that nags you and wants to pick a fight with you. According to Proverbs you would be better off living in extreme conditions than sharing a home with such a person. This makes me think twice before picking a fight with El Fury. James refers to the tongue as “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8) We would be wise to bridle it and think twice before nagging.

Proverbs 14:1 is very interesting. It doesn’t speak directly about nagging and quarreling, but I included it with those verses because I thought it related well. “The wise woman builds her house.” Remember how it was during those first years of marriage? I was so attentive to our home and to El Fury’s needs. I built my house with care. I looked after others more than myself. The second part of this verse should serve as a warning. “But with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” What happens? This sounds like self-sabotage. Does this wife stop being intentional, stop tending to her marriage with care? Does her speech become characterized by nagging and quarreling?

Of course nobody wants to be the one that is tearing their home down. The problem is that your home might already be falling apart before you are willing to identify the problem. You might not even see that it is falling down until you are standing in the midst of rubble. Now, I’m not saying that it is solely the responsibility of the wife to keep her home intact. It takes two people working together to make a home thrive.

How do we identify if we are becoming nagging and quarrelsome? Watch yourself. Pay attention to what you are saying. It’s so hard to accept that you might be contributing to the problem. I can look back over the years of my marriage and see how in my pride I wanted to point the finger only at my husband. Somehow I forget that my marriage is not about keeping score and proving I’m right. The goal is peace. The goal is sharing your life in a way that builds your home in a beautifully integrated way that makes it hard to tear down.

Sex is a good reset button. Don’t withhold sex from your spouse as a means to get them to do whatever you are nagging them about. That’s manipulative and wrong. Similarly, if you are quarreling, try to follow up by being intimate. I’m not saying to forget about your problems and just have sex. Fix your problems together. Then re-engage physically. I know if El Fury and I have had an argument, I often feel like things are back to normal after we’ve had sex again.

When I find myself being nagging or quarrelsome, I try to picture El Fury standing on the corner of the roof. I don’t like it when he has to go up on our roof for anything, so this is an especially good exercise for me. The point is, I love him. Whatever it is that I’m nagging about or picking a fight with him for, if I can re-approach it from a solution minded viewpoint then the communication can become about the problem instead of the person. It takes effort! Your marriage is worth the effort.

Proverbs 14:1: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Proverbs 19:13: “A foolish child is a fatherʼs ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof.”

Proverbs 21:9: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”

Proverbs 21:19: “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.”

Proverbs 25:24: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”

Proverbs 27:15‭-‬16: “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.”

Other parts of this series:

The Three Women of Proverbs, Part 1: The Adulterous Woman 7

Proverbs is an amazing book, and I’ve made a habit of reading the chapter of the book that corresponds to the day of the month. There are three types of women that are highlighted in Proverbs: the adulterous woman, the quarrelsome wife, and the wife of noble character. This three-post series will examine each of these types, starting today with the Adulterous Woman.

Proverbs has a lot to say about the Adulterous Woman. She is dangerous — and no wonder. This type of woman has the capability to burn up everything you hold dear in your life. Your marriage, your family, even your career. Her house “leads down to death” and “none who go to her return or attain the paths of life”. This is a serious warning. How often have we seen this happen? How do we protect ourselves from this danger?

  1. “Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman.” Wisdom is a lifelong acquirement, so this is no easy suggestion. Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” This statement could fill up a book. God is powerful, sovereign, and holy. You should have a proper fear of God, and that fear should humble you. If you live your life through that lens a lot of things will orient in a good way, including your marriage. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Fear God, pray for wisdom, and read God’s Word which is full of wisdom.
  2. Guard your marriage. This could also be another book. Your marriage is the most important relationship in your life, and it is worth guarding. Guard your time together, guard your speech to one another and about one another. Be truthful to each other and identify problems as they arise. Do not slander one another to your friends and do not make friends with people that will entice you to engage in that sort of conversation. Trust your spouse and assume they want the best for you. People don’t typically set out to intentionally commit adultery. But if you aren’t diligently tending to your marriage you might unknowingly be taking small steps towards that path.
  3. Make sex a priority. You need this. Intimate contact creates physical and emotional bonding. The more satisfied you both are in your sex life the less likely you will be to look for satisfaction outside of your marriage.

Proverbs 2:16‭-‬19: “Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God.  Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.  None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.”

Proverbs 5:3‭-‬6: “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil;  but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.  Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.  She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.”

Proverbs 6:24‭-‬29: “Keeping you from your neighborʼs wife, from the smooth talk of a wayward woman.  Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.  For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread, but another manʼs wife preys on your very life.  Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?  Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?  So is he who sleeps with another manʼs wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.”

Proverbs 7:10‭-‬12: “Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.  (She is unruly and defiant, her feet never stay at home;  now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.)”

Proverbs 7:26‭-‬27: “Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.  Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.”

Proverbs 23:27‭-‬28: “For an adulterous woman is a deep pit, and a wayward wife is a narrow well.  Like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men.”

Other parts of this series:

What Is Lust? 8

We get emails pretty frequently asking, “what is lust?” I’d been working on a post on the topic for a while, but decided to quit when I read this excellent analysis of lust by Jason Staples. He begins with a passage that is likely familiar to most Christians, and goes from there to explain what kind of behavior is normal, and what’s sinful.

(I headlined this post with a picture of Gollum because his behavior epitomizes covetousness: he not only craves the One Ring, he kills and destroys to obtain it.)

Matthew 5:27–28: Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· οὐ μοιχεύσεις. ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ.

“You heard it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman/wife in order to covet her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Many churches (especially within Evangelical circles), emphasize this verse to men and (especially) adolescent boys, warning that if they so much as think of a woman in a sexual manner, they’ve already sinned, that they’ve already effectively done the deed with her. Such an interpretation often works hand-in-glove with the common idea that Jesus “intensified” the Law in the Sermon on the Mount, setting a higher standard in order to show that no person could actually live up to God’s standards, showing that a person could only be saved by recognizing the impossibility of righteousness and then receiving forgiveness (a complete misinterpretation of the Sermon on the Mount I will address at another time). So the common teaching is: lust (that is, sexual lust) is absolutely evil—equivalent, even, to the physical act of sexual sin.

Another key aspect of nearly all the common misinterpretations of this verse is a specific (mistaken) definition of the word “lust.” Specifically, many readers understand “lust” as specifically denoting misplaced or overly robust libido. For example, as one recent conversation partner explained to me, “I take lust to mean wanting something more than you should in an unhealthy way.”

Despite its popularity, this interpretation is imprecise, even flat wrong, and leads to surprisingly harmful consequences, making this verse a great candidate to start this series.

Sex in Song of Solomon, Chapter 7 9

(Click here to read the whole Sex in Song of Solomon series.)

Song of Solomon, Chapter 7.

In chapter 6 we read the Lover and his Beloved praising each other, and chapter 7 continues that theme with the Lover’s admiration of his Beloved’s physical attributes. The imagery here isn’t hard to interpret.

How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
    O noble daughter!
Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
    the work of a master hand.
Your navel is a rounded bowl
    that never lacks mixed wine.
Your belly is a heap of wheat,
    encircled with lilies.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    twins of a gazelle.
Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,
    by the gate of Bath-rabbim.
Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,
    which looks toward Damascus.
Your head crowns you like Carmel,
    and your flowing locks are like purple;
    a king is held captive in the tresses.
How beautiful and pleasant you are,
    O loved one, with all your delights!

The Lover delights in the beauty of his Beloved: her feet, thighs, stomach, breasts, neck, eyes, nose, head, hair. So what’s he going to do about it?

Your stature is like a palm tree,
    and your breasts are like its clusters.
I say I will climb the palm tree
    and lay hold of its fruit.
Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
    and the scent of your breath like apples,
and your mouth like the best wine.

And the Beloved’s response isn’t coy or shy — she invites her Lover into her fields and vineyards, where she promises to give him her love.

It goes down smoothly for my beloved,
    gliding over lips and teeth.
I am my beloved’s,
    and his desire is for me.

Come, my beloved,
    let us go out into the fields
    and lodge in the villages;
let us go out early to the vineyards
    and see whether the vines have budded,
whether the grape blossoms have opened
    and the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my love.
The mandrakes give forth fragrance,
    and beside our doors are all choice fruits,
new as well as old,
    which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.

Mandrake root was believed to be an aphrodisiac that would also enhance fertility. The Beloved has laid up all the choice fruits of her sexuality for her Lover, both new and old. The image here is that the Beloved is eager to ravish her Lover with her body, ready and willing share with him the beauty that he has admired for so long. The Beloved offers everything to her Lover and holds nothing back.

Only one chapter to go!

Wives and Mandrakes 10

This passage from Genesis 30:14-17 cracks me up. The sisters Leah and Rachel were two of Jacob’s wives — Leah was Jacob’s first wife, and Rachel was Jacob’s best-loved wife. Leah had already borne Jacob four sons, but now both she and the childless Rachel were unable to conceive. Mandrake roots were commonly believed to be aphrodisiacs that could cure female infertility.

In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.

I’m sure this situation was fraught with emotion for everyone involved, as for anyone struggling with infertility, but from several thousand years away the conversation strikes me as quite humorous.

Both women eventually have children, so from then on I’m sure all was happy and peaceful in their household.

Sex Q&A: Christian Wife Swapping, Swinging 11

We’ve gotten enough emails on the topic that it’s worth addressing: is it ok for Christians to engage in swinging or wife swapping? (None of the emails we’ve received are suitable for quotation.) I suppose we get these emails because it’s obvious from our blog that Sexy Corte and I are pro-sex and enjoy some kinky stuff that isn’t discussed at church. I’m not sure if the folks who email us are genuinely wondering what the Bible has to say on swinging or if they’re looking for someone to help rationalize existing behavior, but I’m going to give a sincere answer.

Swinging or wife swapping is a sin called adultery, and is never acceptable to God. It doesn’t matter if you, your spouse, and the other couple all consent — God doesn’t consent. The Seventh Commandment is short and to the point:

Exodus 20:14, “You shall not commit adultery.”

Jesus raises the bar set in the Old Testament:

Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

A person might claim, “It’s not adultery if my spouse knows about it and approves.” However, the definition of adultery makes no such distinction, and never has throughout human history.

voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.

The bottom line here is similar to an earlier Q&A on threesomes:

God’s will is that sex should be reserved exclusively for a husband and a wife. So, while there aren’t many limits on what you and your wife can do together, you can’t bring someone else into your sexual relationship. Neither spouse can give the other spouse permission to commit adultery — adultery isn’t just a sin against your spouse, it’s a sin against God. Permission from your spouse doesn’t make adultery acceptable to God. It is never acceptable to have sex outside of your marriage. See also: Proverbs 5, “be intoxicated always in her love”Hebrews 13:4, and Proverbs 7.

If your marriage is happy, swinging won’t strengthen it; if your marriage is unhappy, wife swapping won’t fix any of the underlying problems. We strongly exhort every married couple to keep their sex life exclusive to themselves. This is what God commands through the Bible, and worldly experience says the same thing.

See also: Are There Any Sexual Limits or Boundaries in a Christian Marriage?

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